AN: Sorry it's been forever! I've been super busy with sports and academics and whatnot, so time to write has been pretty scarce. Anywho, this is the final installment of Swim With Me To The Edge, and it's main point is just to tie up lose ends and make you all feel warm and fuzzy inside, etc etc. I hope you enjoy it, and please come back for the sequel to Coming Clean, which I'm pretty sure will be my next project.
As always, I want to thank every single reviewer and reader who stayed with this story. It means so much to me. If I had the time, I would reply to every last review and tell you all how much I love and appreciate you, but sadly I barely have enough time to write the damn story haha. So just know how much I adore you and your undying support. Thank you so much!
Pairings: Sasu/Naru, Neji/Kiba, Shika/Ino
Disclaimer: Not mine, sadly.
"I brought you something," Sasuke muttered as he entered Naruto's hospital room. He stopped short as he caught sight of Ino, sitting in his usual spot by the blond's bed.
"Sasuke!" she called, rushing up to embrace him.
He caught her, surprised. "What...?"
"He's awake," Ino whispered, shaking with emotion. "Shikamaru–he woke up!"
Relief and genuine happiness filled Sasuke, and he replied, "That's great, Ino. Congratulations."
She pulled away, practically bouncing on her feet, and Sasuke saw the drying tear tracks of joy on her red, flushed cheeks. She'd never looked more ecstatic. "I'm gonna go back to him, but I just wanted to let you two know," she said brightly, touching his shoulder. "Come by later, okay? He'd love to see you."
Sasuke nodded, ruffling her hair a little, and watched her skip out of the room before turning to Naruto, a small smile lingering in his eyes.
"Great news, huh?" the blond murmured, lips quirking.
Sasuke nodded, meeting the blue gaze. "It is."
"So what'd you bring me, handsome?" the other boy teased, lowering his lashes seductively.
Sasuke snorted, bemused, and leaned down to pick up the sweatshirt he'd dropped when Ino had attacked him. He held it up, feeling a little self-conscious as he muttered, "Your favorite."
Naruto's face melted into a smile, and he beckoned Sasuke closer, patting the space beside him. Sasuke moved towards him, grunting in surprise when Naruto hooked an arm around his neck and brought him in for a kiss.
"Thank you," he said lowly into Sasuke's lips, giving them a saucy lick before pulling away and grinning.
Sasuke, a bit flustered but easily hiding it, righted himself beside the boy and replied, "You're welcome."
He helped Naruto get the hoodie over his injured wrist and back, then kissed his forehead and laid him back down.
"Mm, smells so good," Naruto moaned, cuddling deep into the too-large sweatshirt. "You can go ahead and leave now, Sasuke, I'm set for life..."
Sasuke laughed a bit at this, shaking his head at the boy's antics. "You'd think with the real me here, you wouldn't choose–oof!"
With an undignified noise, Sasuke toppled onto the bed, landing half on top of Naruto and wincing as he heard the other boy hiss in pain. Immediately, he moved to stand back up, but Naruto grabbed him by the arm and hurriedly gasped,
"I'm fine. Just stay. Please?"
Sasuke sighed softly, remembering all the times he'd laid with the boy after a painful bout of burn treatment, and obediently scooted onto the tiny bed, lips quirking when Naruto immediately curled into his chest like a kitten.
"You're right, the real thing is so much better," he whispered, breathing him in as if he hadn't done so for years.
Sasuke kissed his temple, his whole body relaxing at this feeling of someone depending on him, wanting him, loving him. He never would've thought he'd be in this situation– never would've thought he'd be able to feel these things for another person. Naruto had changed him in ways he'd never thought possible.
Abruptly, he wondered what his life would have been like if he hadn't of shown up when he did that day Naruto had tried to kill himself. The thought had him tensing, and his arms tightened around the blonde's waist to a nearly painful grip.
"Sasuke?" Naruto asked softly, pushing himself up so that he could look at Sasuke's face. His lover's features, sharp and daunting, were shadowed with some dark emotion. He reached out with his good hand to ghost his fingers over them, gently attempting to remove the tension there. "What is it, love?"
Sasuke avoided his eyes. "Nothing," he grunted.
Naruto rolled his eyes. "Liar."
Sasuke swallowed thickly and turned to face his rumpled, beautiful boyfriend, reaching out with both hands to cradle his slightly bewildered face. "I'm glad you didn't succeed that day," he said simply, fingers smoothing over the soft skin of his cheeks.
Then he abruptly understood, and pressed forward until they were kissing, lips moving together warmly, headily. He suddenly felt that rabid fire in his veins; wished so badly that they were in a more private setting so that he could show Sasuke just how glad he was that he was alive and secure in the other boy's arms.
Sasuke felt it too, and pulled Naruto closer, closer, needing to feel as much of him as he possibly could.
"Love you," Naruto whispered– more like gasped– into Sasuke's mouth.
Sasuke moved his lips down the blond's neck, kissing just underneath his jaw before murmuring back, "I love you too."
They continued to kiss for a few long, tender moments, lazily moving their mouths together in content and affection.
Sometime during this, Kiba and Neji slipped into the room, both looking embarrassed when they cleared their throats and the two boys reluctantly pulled away from one another.
"Hey, guys," Naruto greeted, cheeks pink. "What's up?"
"We, uh, just wanted to see if Sasuke wanted to come with us to see Shika," Kiba said awkwardly, not quite looking the blond in the eyes. Neji's hand ghosted up his back to settle on his shoulder, and he absently turned into the boy's chest as the other began to speak.
"You're welcome to come as well, of course," he said in that low, soothing voice, which rumbled through Kiba's ear.
Naruto smiled warmly, but the edges were a bit brittle. "I don't want to intrude. He's your friend, not mine."
Sasuke's arm curled around his waist, a hand settling on one tan hip and massaging there. "Hn," he said softly.
"He'll be yours too within no time," Kiba elaborated for him, quirky smile and confidence suddenly back in full swing. "As soon as we tell him how you saved our lives, I'm sure he'll warm up real quick."
Naruto gave that same small, vaguely sad smile and murmured, "Alright, I guess. If it's okay with you all."
Sasuke's lips found his temple. "It's fine. Come on."
He helped his blond lover out of the bed and the four of them made their way over to the now familiar hospital room in which Shikamaru resided. Kiba walked beside Naruto and, surprising all of them, struck up a conversation with him. Naruto, bewildered but pleased, responded with enthusiasm and felt his mood lift from its previous darkness.
It lifted even further when they all entered the room and saw Shikamaru and Ino curled up together on the bed, both looking flushed and pink with happiness and relief. One barely noticed how rumpled and exhausted Ino looked, nor how haggard and unkempt her boyfriend appeared– the sheer poignance of their contentedness shone like the sun and was equally as blinding.
"Shika!" Kiba crowed, sprinting to him and tackling him in a hug.
"Oof–Kiba!" Shikamaru admonished in an annoyed rasp, but he lifted an arm and embraced him all the same. "You're so troublesome..."
"Shikamaru," Sasuke grunted, appearing uncaring– but everyone in the room knew him well enough to be able to see the relief in his eyes and the slight tilt to his lips.
"Yo, Sasuke," Shikamaru greeted, waving with the hand that wasn't wrapped around Kiba.
"Alright, alright, you're gonna make me jealous," Neji said lowly, in what wasn't meant to be a joke but made them laugh anyway.
Kiba sprung up from his spot on Shikamaru's bed and hurried to kiss him, laughter making the action sloppy but loving. "You know you're the only one for me," he whispered, nipping at the boy's jaw.
"Yeah, yeah," Neji replied, cheeks tinging pink.
"I'd never go for him anyway," Shikamaru said lazily, pulling Ino closer to his side. "I'm quite happy as it is."
Ino positively glowed, and curled into his chest, seemingly unable to keep herself from being close to him.
Naruto watched it all, feeling happy for them– but somewhere inside, that lingering sadness flared up again at the realization that these people around him knew each other like the back of their hands; had inside jokes and secrets and a love for one another that he knew nothing about– and that epiphany was hard to swallow.
Sasuke, sensing his thoughts, tightened the arm wrapped loosely around his waist. "Just say something," he murmured into Naruto's hair. "You can be a part of this too."
Naruto swallowed thickly, still feeling like he didn't have the right. Finally, he spoke up, voice dry and rasping, "Er, Shikamaru. I'm...really glad you're okay."
There was a moment of awkward silence. Everyone looked at him, and he felt distinctly uncomfortable. He was about to stutter that he could leave if they wanted him to when Shikamaru replied,
"It's because of you that I'm even alive."
Naruto's heart skipped a beat. "I..." he cleared his throat. "I really didn't–
"Yes you did," Ino interrupted, eyes fervent. "If you hadn't of gotten the police there in time...if Sasuke hadn't of texted you in the first place...none of us would be here."
They all shuddered at that, and Naruto unconsciously turned into Sasuke, hugging him tight, needing to feel him there.
"Well, you're welcome," he finally whispered, voice half muffled in Sasuke's chest. "You all deserved it. You're amazing people."
Kiba shook his head from the circle of Neji's arms. "Not really," he murmured, regret coloring his tone. "We've all treated you so badly in the past year. You didn't owe us a damn thing, let alone our lives." He smiled a little, expression warm. "It's you who'sthe amazing one, Naruto. I can only hope– and I think I speak for all of us– that you'll be willing to forgive us and, possibly, want to be our friends...?"
Every head in the room nodded and looked to him for his answer, and Naruto felt his throat throb at the happiness that was roiling through him.
"I...thank you so much," he whispered hoarsely, clutching at Sasuke's shirt. "Of course I forgive you. And I'd love to–to be friends with you. With all of you."
"Well, obviously more than friends with Uchiha over there," Kiba joked, breaking the tension and making them all smile.
"Yes," Naruto said, eyes shining with unshed tears and love as he turned towards his Sasuke. The dark-haired boy looked down at him, eyes softening in turn. "Much more than friends."
Pulled as if by some magnetic force, they shared a tender kiss, prompting a chorus of 'aww's from their audience, then pulled away, both sporting twin blushes on their cheeks.
"You and Naruto, huh?" Shikamaru asked Sasuke, looking a little bewildered, but mostly amused.
"Oh, shit, I didn't warn you about that, did I?" Ino asked before the dark-haired boy could answer, laughing a bit. "Sorry for the shock, babe."
Shikamaru shrugged and kissed the top of her head. "I was more focused on you than anything else," he murmured.
She smiled, all teeth and affection, and curled back into his side. "Well, now you know. Sasuke and Naruto are–
"Together," Sasuke finished, having a feeling the word she had been about to use to describe them would not have been a clean one.
Shikamaru snorted, then sobered a bit. "And Sakura...?"
Sasuke's eyes shuttered. "She didn't take it well," he grunted, averting his eyes.
Shikamaru picked up on the depth behind that answer and said, "Sounds like a long story. You'll have to explain it to me later, because for now, I just want to...relax."
"That's what you always want to do," Kiba said, rolling his eyes.
The group of friends laughed, then began to talk amongst themselves about random things that had been going on in the weeks since the kidnapping incident, all of them looking happy and relaxed, the storm finally over.
Sasuke's fingers found Naruto's and intertwined with them. "Come outside with me," he said lowly, tugging them a bit.
Naruto looked up at him, eyebrows furrowing. "Okay."
They slipped quietly out of the room and into the silent, empty hallway, where Sasuke immediately turned to him and gave him a kiss on the forehead.
"Sasuke...?" Naruto asked, confused.
"Swim with me," he said softly into the warm skin.
"What?" the blond asked, still bewildered.
"Your cast comes off today, remember?" Sasuke reminded, curling his fingers around the back of the boy's head, tips tickling his ear.
Naruto blinked. "It does," he slowly realized.
"Yes," Sasuke repeated. "And I spoke to your doctor, and he says as soon as you get the re-opened burns re-wrapped, you'll be set to swim."
"...Are you serious?" Naruto asked, breathless, leaning into his lover dizzily.
Sasuke nodded. His lips quirked into a smirk, and his eyes glittered. "So, what do you say? Want to take a swim with me?"
Naruto swallowed, and stared into the beautiful, dark eyes of his lover, feeling affection for the other boy rush through his veins.
Thank God for Sasuke Uchiha, he thought, pure happiness and love jolting through him. I love him so much.
"Of course," he whispered. "To the edge and back."
AN: Wee, another story done. See you next time, folks!